The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new high earlier this week on Wednesday as it topped 22,000 for the first time ever. The record is just one in a series of highs since the election of president Trump. But is the bull run we’re seeing now a direct result of the new president, either his policy proposals or efforts to reduce financial regulation? It’s hard to say. The Dow Jones has reached twenty one new records since the 2016 presidential election. Trump certainly played a roll in getting the markets to where they are today, but many other factors were also in play. At the beginning people were looking at Trump’s proposals which they thought could fuel the economy. These proposals included tax reform, and rolling back the Doff-Frank act. The last tax reform that was successful in Washington happened over thirty years ago in 1986. It is very hard to get it done and many experts are predicting that Trump’s tax reform probably wont get it done this year.
It only took the Dow a little over 100 trading sessions to bridge the gap between 21,000 and 22,000 points according to WSJ Market Data Group. “The blue chip average has now hit three 1,000-point milestones, or moved at least 3,000 points, in a single year. Of course, the higher the DJIA rises, the smaller each 1,000 point move is in percentage terms.”
Stock Market could hit all-time high (again) 22,000 today. Was 18,000 only 6 months ago on Election Day. Mainstream media seldom mentions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2017
Donald Trump recently tweeted that the Mainstream media seldom mentions how well the stock market is performing. But the media does cover the performance of the stock market. 22,000 is a major milestone for the popular stock index and many outlets have done stories on it. It’s just that the mainstream media doesn’t attribute the last six month performance of the market to Donald Trump. Maybe that’s what he means in his tweet.
Although I believe Trump has had some impact boosting the stock market, the main reason for the rise of the Dow over the last two quarters has been stronger company earnings and a growing economy. Large technology companies are expanding their market share and profits every year. Apple recently announced its iPad sales are up 28% over the last quarter. Gross margin for the most recent quarter was 38.5% compared to 38% from the same quarter a year ago. Apple also declared a quarterly dividend payment of $0.63 per share, payable on August 17 to shareholders of record as of August 14. Additionally U.S. GDP is growing at about 2.8%. This is not as high as the 3% Trump wants but it’s pretty close. At this current rate the Dow may reach 23,000 by the end of the year.
But there are two major issues in the months to come that could shake up the markets. The first problem revolves around the looming debt ceiling. The current limit is $19.8 trillion that was set in March. The Congressional Budget Office believes the U.S. is going to run out of time in early to mid October this year. This means if Congress can’t agree on a spending plan before then, the government could shut down again like it did in 2013. If that happens, it would negatively affect the economy and people’s incomes.
The other major problem is a potential crisis which would emanate from Europe. EU banks still have nearly 1 trillion Euros worth of bad loans in the European banking system. That’s more than 5% of all their loans. As a whole European financial institutions could probably stomach the average ratio. But there’s a large difference from country to country ranging from bad loans making up 1% to nearly 50% of all loans. The countries with the highest bad loan ratios are Greece, Cypress, Slovenia, Ireland, and Portugal. This month EU officials have proposed one cohesive strategy to deal with possible bank runs. History has shown that a financial crisis in Europe will affect global markets.
If Congress can avoid hitting the debt ceiling and there’s no panic in Europe then it seems U.S. stocks should continue to climb based on stronger company financials. Otherwise a small pullback would likely happen.